Now that the election is finally over, it’s time we came together as a country, united by a single purpose.
I think we can agree – regardless of your political persuasion or how you feel about the election’s outcome – that it’s time to purge from our vocabulary the hackneyed expressions overused by political pundits and reporters everywhere.
Words are my life. But some words can lose their meaning, especially when they are worn out from repeated use in the context of elections.
Hereby be it resolved that effective on Inauguration Day, we can bury these phrases:
Walks or walked back: For instance, you saw it in headlines like “Giuliani walks back suggestion FBI insiders leaked to him.”
How about “takes back” or “reverses himself”? “Walk back” just sounds ridiculous and worthy only of John Cleese and Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.
Unpack: This is a truly egregious one. I know it is a shortcut for “trying to make sense out of this” or “this thing is a bit of a Russian nesting doll” but please let’s reserve “unpack” for something you do to luggage after a long trip.
You saw it in headlines like this: “There’s a lot to unpack in just one of Donald Trump’s answers about energy policy.”
Path to victory/Path to the White House: This might rank as my all-time least favorite (read: most hated) overused phrase of the campaign.
Headlines like “Election Update: Yes, Donald Trump Has A Path to Victory” surfaced like earthworms after a heavy rain. How about simply “has a way to win”?
Optics: This is another one that drove me nuts. “King talks importance of campaign optics” was the headline on one story.
“Optics” became this all-inclusive word to mean appearances or what things look like.
I am pretty sure it had nothing to do with the dictionary definition as in “the scientific study of sight and the behavior of light.”
I will poke myself in the eye if I hear another misuse of “optics.”
Pivot: How about “shifted”? Could we just use that please?
Filter bubble: “The ‘Filter Bubble’ Explains Why Trump Won and You Didn’t See It Coming,” read one headline.
It’s a term used to describe how our highly personalized intake of news and information shuts us off from seeing any other perspectives.
I get the filter part and I get the bubble part but combining them somehow sounds silly, like a bubble has a filter? This one can die quickly as far I’m concerned. It’s right up there with “echo chamber.”
Dumpster fire: You know, the first 200 times I read and heard it, it was kind of cute. Now it just feels like time to extinguish it.
Firewall: Used to mean a candidate’s bulwark against losing as in “Hillary Clinton’s Swing State Firewall Explained,” or the collection of states a candidate could count on to sweep and thus win the election.
You might as well have used the word “drawbridge.”
*Journalists preparing for the 2020 campaign furiously scribble notes.*
Wait! Forget I said that!
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